Patients across the U.S. are requesting copies of their medical records under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and that causes an enormous amount of paperwork. Yes, there are tech solutions that could streamline this process, but the U.S. healthcare system has struggled to move towards wider adoption.
To tackle this challenge, a diverse and powerful group of health information technology experts joined forces to develop a new digital health records request approach. Led by X4 Health, a purpose-driven organization founded by consumer advocates, the new prototype tool — called the "Health Record Request Wizard" — streamlines and simplifies the records request process and promotes digital formats. The effort was supported by a grant from the Commonwealth Fund.
"The Wizard is a game-changer for patients, families, and health care providers alike," Christine Bechtel, co-founder and president of X4 Health, said in a statement. "This tool will help bring an outdated process into the 21st century and make it easier to obtain and organize health records in electronic formats, ultimately helping create a comprehensive picture of a person's health."
The tool is the result of a year-long research and development effort to build upon the popular model form previously created by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), a key collaborator in the Wizard creation. The Wizard is a digital "smart form" that uses branch logic and skip patterns to help consumers articulate what they need, in what format and by when. It results in a highly specific, HIPAA-compliant document delivered to the health care provider's medical records specialist.
A number of leading organizations have committed to incorporating key lessons from the Wizard project — and potentially the tool itself — into their own work. The list of committed organizations include:
- CARIN Alliance
- Door County Medical Center
- Marshfield Clinic Health System
- National Partnership for Women & Families
- Norton Healthcare
- Texas State University Department of Health Information Management
- University of Wisconsin HIM and Technology Program
- X4 Health
Also, dozens of organizations and individuals were involved in the development and testing of the Wizard, including representatives from AHIMA, CARIN Alliance, CareJourney, Swellbox, and more — as well as community-based patients and families.